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Publication numberUS4894623 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 07/223,990
Publication dateJan 16, 1990
Filing dateJul 25, 1988
Priority dateJul 25, 1988
Fee statusPaid
Publication number07223990, 223990, US 4894623 A, US 4894623A, US-A-4894623, US4894623 A, US4894623A
InventorsDavid B. Chang
Original AssigneeHughes Aircraft Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Compact tunable RF generator using a current carrying diffraction grating
US 4894623 A
Abstract
A compact tunable generator of radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic energy is disclosed. A thin conducting film is applied to a diffraction grating formed from a nonconducting substrate. A voltage source is applied to the film so that a current flows in the convoluted plane of the film in a direction perpendicular to the grooves of the grating. The frequency of the RF energy radiated by this system is determined both by the grating spacing and the applied voltage. The power levels are adequate for testing sensitive receiver systems over a wide range of frequencies.
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Claims(10)
What is claimed is:
1. A tunable generator of radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic energy, comprising:
a diffraction grating formed from an electrically insulative substrate comprising a plurality of aligned grooves, having a depth A, formed in said substrate;
a thin film of an electrically conductive material formed on said diffraction grating, said film having a thickness significantly less than depth A; and
means for applying a variable voltage to said conductive film so that a current flows in the film in a direction substantially perpendicular to the grooves of the
whereby RF energy is radiated from said film, the frequency of the radiation being dependent on the grating spacing and the magnitude of applied voltage.
2. The tunable generator of claim 1 wherein the spacing of said grooves is about three microns, and said means for applying a variable voltage is adapted to apply a selectable DC voltage of between 50 to 150 volts, whereby RF energy in the gigahertz range may be generated.
3. The tunable generator of claim 1 wherein said means for applying a variable voltage comprises a DC voltage source and a variable resistor connected in series between the opposing sides of said film which are substantially aligned with the grooves of said diffraction grating.
4. The tunable generator of claim 1 wherein said means for applying a variable voltage comprises an AC voltage source connected between the opposing sides of said film which are substantially aligned with the grooves of said diffraction grating.
5. The tunable generator of claim 1 wherein said thin film comprises a layer of metal deposited on said diffraction grating.
6. The tunable generator of claim 1 wherein said diffraction grating substrate comprises glass or quartz.
7. The tunable generator of claim 1 further comprising means for operating said generator in a pulsed mode.
8. The tunable generator of claim 7 wherein said means for operating said generator in a pulsed mode comprises a switch element connected in series relationship with said means for applying a variable voltage, and a switch controller for periodically opening and closing said switch element to achieve a desired pulse rate and duty cycle.
9. A tunable generator of radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation, comprising:
a diffraction grating formed from an electrically insulative substrate having a plurality of substantially parallel and substantially equally spaced grooves, having a depth A, formed in one surface thereof;
a thin film of electrically conductive material formed on said surface of said diffraction grating to cover said grooves, said film having a thickness significantly less than depth A;
means for applying a variable voltage to said conductive film so that a current flows in the convoluted surface of the film in a direction substantially perpendicular to the grooves of the diffraction grating, said means comprising a DC voltage source and a variable resistance connected in series between opposing sides of the film which are aligned with said grooves,
whereby low-level RF electromagnetic energy is radiated from said film, the frequency of the radiation being dependent on the grating spacing and the magnitude of the applied voltage.
10. A tunable generator of radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation, comprising:
a diffraction grating formed from an electrically insulative substrate having a plurality of substantially parallel and substantially equally spaced grooves, having a depth A, formed in one surface thereof;
a thin film of electrically conductive material formed on said surface of said diffraction grating to cover said grooves, said film having a thickness significantly less than depth A;
means for applying a variable voltage to said conductive film so that a current flows in the convoluted surface of the film in a direction substantially perpendicular to the grooves of the diffraction grating, said means comprising an AC voltage source and a variable resistance connected in series between opposing sides of the film which are aligned with said grooves,
whereby low-level RF electromagnetic energy is radiated from said film, the frequency of the radiation being dependent on the grating spacing and the magnitude of the applied voltage.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to generator devices for generating radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation, and more particularly to a compact yet tunable RF generator.

A small (card-level) source of RF electromagnetic radiation is required for many applications, such as portable test sets for sensitive (-100 dBm) RF systems. The main requirements of the source or generator are compactness and tunability. High power levels are not required. It is desired that these test sets be able to provide low level radiation tunable from 2 GHz through several tens of GHz., e.g., 40 GHz.

Existing commercially available solid state RF sources are compact, but they do not have the requisite tunability. Free electron masers have the tunability, but not the requisite compactness. Other RF sources such as magnetrons have neither the required compactness nor tunability.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a compact RF generator capable of providing low level RF radiation and which is tunable over a large frequency range.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A compact tunable generator of RF electromagnetic radiation is disclosed. The tunable generator comprises a diffraction grating formed from an electrically non-conductive substrate. The diffraction grating comprises a plurality of aligned grooves of uniform depth, width and spacing formed in the substrate. A thin film of an electrically conductive material is applied on the diffraction grating.

The tunable generator further comprises a means for applying a variable voltage to the conductive film so that a current flows in the film in a direction substantially perpendicular to the grooves of the diffraction grating. The current results in RF electromagnetic radiation from the grating and film, with the frequency of the radiation dependent on the grating spacing and the applied voltage. By varying the applied voltage, the frequency of the generated radiation may be varied over a wide frequency range.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of an exemplary embodiment thereof, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a simplified schematic diagram of a tunable RF generator embodying the invention.

FIG. 2 is a simplified partial perspective view of the diffraction grating and conductive film comprising the tunable RF generator of FIG. 1, showing the connection of one electrical contact to one side of the film and grating.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSED EMBODIMENT

A tunable RF generator 10 embodying the invention is depicted in the simplified schematic illustration of FIG. 1. A thin electrically conductive film 12 is deposited on a diffraction grating 14 made of an electrically insulative material such as glass or quartz. The grating comprises a plurality of parallel grooves 15 of a depth A and spacing b defined in the surface of the substrate 14.

Current is made to flow through the film 12 by a voltage source 16. The voltage source 16 is electrically coupled to the sides 12A and 12B of the film 12 through a variable resistance 18 and an on/off switch 20. The voltage source 16 may either comprise a source of DC voltage, e.g., a battery, or a source of AC voltage. As a result, the current flows through the film 12 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the grooves 15 of the grating 14. Since the current follows the convoluted surface defined by the grooves 15 of the grating 14, the charges comprising the current are accelerated. These accelerated charges then radiate. The frequency of the radiation is on the order of VD /b, where vD is the drift velocity of the charges and b is the grating spacing. Thus, since vD is proportional to the voltage applied across the film, the frequency of the radiated RF can be changed simply by changing the voltage applied to the grating, which is accomplished here by adjusting the resistance of variable resistor 18. The on-off switch 20 controlled by switch controller 21 completes the circuit.

To illustrate the general power levels of the resulting RF energy radiated by the generator 10, consider a simple model where the grating profile is given by y=A cos (kg x), where kg =2μ/b. When Akg <<1, the primary acceleration of the charges is in the y direction.

y=-(A (kg vD) cos kg x(t),                  (1)

where for an individual charge located at x0 at t=0,

x(t)=x0 +vD t.                                   (2)

The power radiated by a single charge is the dipole approximation P1 given by equations 3 and 4. ##EQU1## The total power radiated by the N electrons in the film is

P=NP1,                                                (5)

and if the film has thickness s, length L (in the X direction), width w (in the Z direction), and electron density n0,

P=n0 sLwP1                                       (6)

The drift velocity vD of the electrons is given by Ohm's law:

vD =[(eλmfp)/(mvF)]E,                (7)

where e is the electronic charge, m is the electronic mass, vF is the Fermi velocity (i.e., mvF 榟n0.spsp.1/3), λmfp is the mean free path for collisions in the metal, and E is the electric field. For an applied voltage V,

E榁/L                                                (8)

For many conductors, such as indium tin oxide,λmmfp is of the order of 10-5 cm, and n0 is in the range of 1022 -1023 cm-3. Accordingly,

vD 𩛵03), Evolt/cm cm/sec. (9)

and if V=100 volts and L=1 cm, vD is about 105 cm/sec.

For a width w=1 cm, a film thickness s=1000Å, and a grating spacing b and amplitude A of 3 microns, the resulting frequency would be 1 GHz and the power level would be 𪖹0-7 watts. This power is quite sufficient to test receivers with sensitivities of -100 dBm (i.e., 10-13 watts).

The frequency will vary slightly with the angle θ between the direction of radiation and the plane of the grating

f1/2π[(kg vD)/(1-(vD /c)cosθ)](10)

However, since vD /c is on the order of 10-5, the variation with angle is not significant.

The current I flowing through the film 12 is given by

I=μVe n0 ws/L.                                     (11)

The thermal heating of the film 12 is given by

PTh=n 0 eμws V2 /L.                       (12)

It may be necessary for some applications to utilize semiconductors or semimetals to form the film 12 to reduce the current and heat generation, and to operate in a pulsed mode to avoid overheating. A suitable switch 20 and controller 21 (FIG. 1) may be employed to operate the generator 10 in a pulse mode, i.e., to periodically open and close the switch 20 to achieve a desired pulse rate and duty cycle. Water cooling the substrates may also be employed to cool the substrate if necessary.

The diffraction grating may readily be fabricated using conventional milling or photolithographic etching techniques, depending on the desired grating spacing. For example, a diffraction grating having a grating spacing on the order of a millimeter may be fabricated by milling the grooves in the surface of the substrate. A diffraction grating having a grating spacing on the order of one-half micron may be fabricated by photolithographic etching processes.

The film 12 may comprise such materials as indium tin oxide, gold or other metal, or in some applications a semiconductor such as silicon or a semimetal such as lanthinum hexaboride (LaB6). The film may be applied to the surface by many conventional techniques, such as chemical vapor deposition or sputtering.

The voltage may be applied to the film 12 through leads 22 connected to the film surface at the respective sides 12A and 12B by ohmic contacts. FIG. 2 illustrates exemplary lead 22 connected to the side 12A of the film 12 by ohmic contact 24.

It is understood that the above-described embodiment is merely illustrative of the possible specific embodiments which may represent principles of the present invention. Other arrangements may readily be devised in accordance with these principles by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3835407 *May 21, 1973Sep 10, 1974California Inst Of TechnMonolithic solid state travelling wave tunable amplifier and oscillator
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
USRE36109 *Jul 12, 1995Feb 23, 1999Kipp; LudwigCheckout system
USRE39974 *Feb 11, 2005Jan 1, 2008Hipercon, LlcManagement of contact spots between an electrical brush and substrate
CN1681159BApr 1, 2005Sep 22, 2010汤姆森许可贸易公司Improvement of a slot type antenna on a substrate with surface profile
Classifications
U.S. Classification331/96, 331/107.0DP
International ClassificationH01Q13/20
Cooperative ClassificationH01Q13/20
European ClassificationH01Q13/20
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 11, 1997FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Mar 29, 1994FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 19930116
Jan 17, 1994SULPSurcharge for late payment
Jan 17, 1994FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Jan 16, 1994LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Aug 17, 1993REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Jul 25, 1988ASAssignment
Owner name: HUGHES AIRCRAFT COMPANY, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA A
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:CHANG, DAVID B.;REEL/FRAME:004918/0065
Effective date: 19880720